Dear Mark: Sleep Deprivation as Hormesis, Sweet Cravings, CrossFit, and More

Moon in the nightFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a three-parter that’s really closer to a five-parter. First are a couple of questions from Joe, who first wonders about the hormetic benefits of acute sleep deprivation (are there any?) and then asks how he can beat a sweet tooth he suspects is brought on by lack of exercise. The second pair of questions concern CrossFit (is it an example of Chronic Cardio and should I be recommending it?) and breadfruit (does it have a place on the Primal eating plan?). And finally, Andy asks for the origin of the popular “gut is 80% of our immune system” statement.

Let’s go:

Dear Mark,

Thanks for all you do. Your work provides a wealth of knowledge (accurate and not self-seeking), and I consider myself blessed to have found MDA.

Question 1: I have read various articles of yours in which you discuss hormesis, and I agree with the idea that an occasional stressor or toxin improves the body’s biological functioning. Obviously, there are exceptions here. Exposure to poisons such as cyanide do not bode well for those exposed. But I have also read your articles on sleep. While I couldn’t agree more that regular, quality sleep is vital to our ability to thrive, I am curious to know if there has been any research on a hormetic effect of the occasional sleepless night (or the occasional night with poor quality sleep). It seems logical to me that this kind of occasional stressor would not necessarily be detrimental, but perhaps beneficial. I also wonder about how Grok would have slept. While he was probably free of all our modern distractions and artificial light, I imagine he would need to wake up to protect his family from predators, for example. I would like to get your thoughts on this.

Question 2: I have been living Primally for over two years now, and while I feel much better than I did before I discovered the Primal Lifestyle I have never been able to kick my craving of sweets. Generally I will satisfy my cravings with some quality dark chocolate, some raw, local honey here and there, or the occasional Primal/Paleo dessert, but I believe I may just have a “sweet tooth” because I crave dessert regularly. Is there something I can/should do to cut down these cravings? Increasing my good quality fat intake does not make much of a difference for me. I’m wondering if perhaps it’s exercise. With two young children and two jobs, I have trouble finding time to exercise the way I’d like to exercise. Usually the maximum exercise I get in a day is playing with my two year old daughter, which includes lifting and carrying her, and tossing her into the air and catching her. I would appreciate your advice.

Thanks again, Mark. I hope you have a great day.



Hey, Joe. Great questions. First, sleep deprivation as a hormetic stressor? That’s really interesting and there is some evidence for it.

Using a mouse model of cardiac arrest, researchers showed that acute sleep deprivation can reduce the inflammatory response and stave off the death of heart cells. Puzzled (since they assumed sleep deprivation was always detrimental), they dosed mice with lipopolysaccharide to test whether the effect held for general inflammation, too. It did. Acute sleep deprivation lowered expression of inflammatory factors and increased release of an anti-inflammatory cytokine.

In patients with depression (which is often characterized by wanting to sleep all the time), sleep deprivation has been used improve symptoms. A small percentage (2-7%) of patients worsen with sleep deprivation, but the vast majority see improvements. Some patients even enjoy total remission. And though the improvements usually diminish a bit after recovery sleep, they generally do not disappear, with some patients enjoying the benefits for weeks. The key here seems to be breaking the cycle of excessive sleep. Not daily, of course; chronic sleep deprivation will only make things worse and is actually a risk factor for developing depression in the first place. But the occasional night of “bad” sleep could improve your depressive symptoms, and improve them quickly.

If any of you are interested in trying acute sleep deprivation for depression, check out this 2011 article where the authors lay out a fairly comprehensive protocol for clinicians.

(Any people with depression out there notice a similar effect of sleep deprivation on the severity of their symptoms? I’d be interested to hear.)

Second question: sweet cravings, and what could be causing them.

Your schedule sounds really demanding, and I suspect the stress of it all is manifesting as a sweet tooth. You’re whizzing from job to parenting to job to parenting to (probably broken and insufficient) sleep to cramming some food down your and your kids’ mouths to job… and so on. That’s a lot of responsibility and stress without a lot of breaks.

First, check out my general recommendations for stress reduction. Do what you can there. As for exercise…

Exercise definitely can reduce stress. Although it’s a “stressor” in its own right, I’ve found that exercise kills stress – or at least provides something for me to focus on that isn’t related to whatever is stressing me out. If I’m feeling overwhelmed with work or thinking too heavily about a project, I’ll often take a break to go lift weights, run a few sprints, or take a long walk. When I’m physically active, it’s difficult for my mind to be anywhere but the moment – the thing I’m doing. The problem is still there when I return, but it isn’t so stressful anymore and I have a slightly different, clearer perspective that lets me tackle the problem without the hangups. Taking that break from endless thinking about thinking about the problem really, really helps.

Since your schedule is pretty full and you have two small kids, you’ll have to get creative in order to exercise. Here are some ideas:

Take your kids to the playground and/or park every day, even if just for half an hour. Join them on the jungle gym for pullups and rows and pushups. Swing arm over arm along the monkey bars. Play tag; they run, you crawl. Practice somersaults, cartwheels, handstands, jumps, and tumbles. Balance on handrails, park benches, equipment. If you feel you have to choose between dinner time and play, do an early evening picnic at the park! Play, then eat. There’s no reason you have to eat inside. Same goes for homework or anything else that can technically be done anywhere.

Keep up and progress with the toddler lifting. Lifting and throwing a two year old human is a pretty good workout, but you can do much more than a few throws and lifts. Try walking lunges while carrying the kid. Try overhead presses. Try single leg deadlifts. Try toddler kettlebell swings. For heavier sets, use the older kid; the squirming and protesting will only increase the difficulty and benefits.

Check out Darryl Edwards’ Fitness Explorer site. He’s one of the most innovative thinkers in the fitness community because he focuses entirely on play – on having fun, laughing your a** off, and getting a great workout in the process. He even did a guest post on MDA last year that lays out his philosophy and gives you a few ideas to get started playing. There’s a reason he’s a mainstay at PrimalCon.

Try to go for a short walk every day with your kids, especially the little one. Maybe after dinner. Maybe just around the block. Maybe just ten or fifteen minutes, if that’s all you can spare. It’s a great way for you to get some regular activity (and lower blood glucose after a meal, if you’re into that sort of thing) and it’ll help instill walking as a normal, everyday habit in your kids.

Go for a long hike with the kids on your day off. Carrying a two year old up a steep incline for a couple miles is a killer workout. Plus, getting out into nature on a regular basis will melt away the stress.

Sprint. A few short, brutal hill sprints take 10, 15 minutes and then you’re done for the week. You might also pick up a stationary bike so you can sprint while watching the kids. Look for a Schwinn Airdyne; you can often find them used on Craigslist.

Oh, and don’t sweat it if you have a bit of a dark chocolate habit. I have the same “problem.” Keep up the good work. It sounds like your kids are lucky to have you.

Your blog has been a big and positive influence on me. In addition to overall dietary and exercise advise, I now use resistant starch, and it’s been of huge benefit. Thank you!

Question. I do Pilates, fitness classes like springboard that get me on my feet, and lift at home. I have not done much “chronic cardio” over the past 20 years, and I’m glad I haven’t. Those workout classes I do aren’t super intense cardio. But I’m curious why you seem as positive as you do about CrossFit, which seems as though it can be *abusively* intense cardio, to the point where people are throwing up and liquifying their muscle tissue. There are lots of great Primal things about CrossFit, but this would seem to be a big check mark against it.

Blog post idea. I tried breadfruit for the first time recently in a curry I made, and it was amazing! Could this possibly be a nice addition to the Primal diet? It is incredibly dense and satisfying in a way no other carb I’ve tried is–much more so than potatoes or sweet potatoes. I thought taking a look into it could be a nice post. And do try it if you haven’t yet!

All my best,


Thanks, Matt. Glad to hear resistant starch is helping!

I’m positive about CrossFit (and regularly attend the CrossFit Games), but with qualifiers.

I always make the point that CrossFit is a highly demanding lifestyle choice that may be difficult with very low-carb eating. Just about every week I’ll hear from a CrossFit enthusiast who’s hitting a wall. Last week’s Dear Mark, for example, featured a question from a woman who just couldn’t shake the carb cravings. She was doing CrossFit five days a week and wanted to become a fat-burning beast; I told her she’d probably have to cut back on the CF WODs and include far more easy, low level movement and pure strength training.

I think the 3 days on, 1 day off schedule is excessive for most people trying to juggle a job, a social life, parenting/other responsibilities, other fitness pursuits. Unless you’re a full time CrossFit athlete, or CrossFit coach, it’s probably not advisable. But for many people, their CrossFit box is their social circle and their playtime, and that’s awesome. They love what they’re doing while getting a great workout with good friends. There’s not much better than that.

As to your second question, breadfruit’s great. It’s not a regular thing for me, since it’s a tropical food and not widely available, but whenever I get out to Kauai I make it a point to have some. The cool thing about breadfruit is that it’s essentially three or four foods in one.

Immature breadfruit is like a vegetable. Some compare it to artichoke hearts. You can pickle, boil, or steam it.

Partially mature breadfruit is plain and starchy. At this stage, it’s great for boiling, mashing, stewing, frying (like fries), hashes, and basically anything you’d do to a potato.

More mature breadfruit is sweet and starchy. Treat it like a sweet potato.

Fully ripe breadfruit can be eaten raw. It’s sticky and sweet.

I can see breadfruit working very well at any stage in a curry.

Dear Mark,

I hear the statement that “80% of the immune system is in the gut” many times in the paleosphere. I have tried to find what this actually, specifically means, and how it is calculated, but can’t seem to locate anything concrete. Could you shed some light on this?



This paper lays it out pretty succinctly: 70-80% of your body’s immune cells are found in the gut tissues. But that doesn’t really tell us anything concrete about the role of the gut in the immune system. Let’s look a little more closely:

The gut is a physical barrier to invading pathogens and errant, potentially allergenic particles. The first line of immunity is always a physical barrier. Skin’s another example of a physical barrier.

The gut is also a dynamic barrier. Intestinal tight junctions lining the gut act as doormen of the bloodstream, regulating the passage of nutrients into circulation and keeping allergenic, toxic, or pathogenic particles and microbes out.

The gut produces the majority of our antibodies. Our immune system uses antibodies (like IgA) to identify, target, and destroy foreign invaders.

The gut induces vomiting and/or diarrhea. If the specialized receptors perceive a poison or toxic load, vomiting and/or diarrhea may be induced and powerful contractions of the gut musculature engaged to rid the body of the dangerous contents.

And then you have the gut bacteria, those important players in immunity residing on and in the gut. You can’t count them out, even if they’re not “you.”

Gut bacteria protect against pathogen colonization by taking up space along the intestinal wall. That’s why antibiotics can ultimately damage our immune systems; they often kill everything (not just the pathogens responsible for the current infection) and clear a path for pathogenic bacterial colonization once the antibiotic course ends.

Gut bacteria are required for optimal development of the innate immune system. White blood cells – neutrophils, macrophages, and monocytes – are the backbone of the innate immune response, and animals born without gut bacteria grow up with far fewer of them.

Gut bacteria can determine food intolerances and allergies. Some gut bacteria induce inflammatory responses that prevent allergens from accessing our blood and provoking further response. Other bacteria respond to prebiotics like inulin and resistant starch by increasing butyrate production, which reduces intestinal permeability and allergy/food intolerance.

Now, that wasn’t close to being comprehensive. It would take an entire book to lay out all the immune responsibilities of our guts and their inhabitants, but I think you get the idea.

Thanks for reading, all! Take care and have a great rest of the week. As always, if you have any tips for Joe (and comments/responses for Andy or Matt), feel free to contribute to the comment board!

TAGS:  hormesis

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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41 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Sleep Deprivation as Hormesis, Sweet Cravings, CrossFit, and More”

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  1. Thanks for the clarification of the role of the gut in immunity, I’ve secretly had some of the same questions and this was a really succinct answer.

    Also, that toddler lifting sounds pretty intense! My kids are all above 35 lbs at this point, not to mention the extra weight of their protesting! Interesting and surprised I never thought of it 🙂

  2. It’s amazing how superficial the taught medical information is. When someone takes the time to dig a little deeper it shows how fantastic our biology really is.

  3. I would recommend that anyone who is having a problem with a “sweet tooth” buy a cheap glucose meter (Walmart has them) and monitor their own blood sugar for a week. When you find yourself looking for something sweet, find out if it’s because your blood sugar is low. If it isn’t, then you might just need to limit your carbs severely for a couple of weeks. Being diabetic, I’ve done a lot of experimentation with blood sugar and have found that a quick rise in blood sugar (even from an apple or a nice, big carrot) is often followed by a quick drop. It doesn’t matter how far it drops, just that it does, and when it does I find myself in the kitchen looking for something sweet. Just understanding what’s happening has been enough to make me stop and think about what I’m doing and avoid proliferation of the problem. Knowledge is a great tool.

    1. That’s interesting, Janet. I have such a sweet tooth. I might give this a try. I can go weeks/months without sugar/sweets, but when I give in, it takes weeks to get back on track. Today is day 1 actually of trying to go without ice cream/sweets after dinner.

  4. When you say “gut” do you mean Large Intestine? If that’s where most of one’s immune system lives….what if you don’t have a colon (I don’t)?

  5. Speaking up for sleep deprivation here! I’ve never been diagnosed with depression, or taken the time to get this addressed… But I occasionally battle bouts of a something I can only describe as a sort of cloud that shows up without warning and puts me in an odd downward spiral.

    When I begin to hear the ol’ black dog howling at me I’ll take a night of the week to stay up until near dawn. If I don’t I begin losing interest in all the things I love, I become anti-social, and I become extremely moody, and I begin to break down. At my worst I have in the past experienced suicidal feelings along with these. The lack of sleep is extremely calming to me.

    Oddly enough it used to happen to me once a month, and it would hang around anywhere between a couple of days to a full month. I made a bunch of changes almost overnight that seemed to make them less frequent. Since there were so many, I’m not certain what did help or if it was more a placebo effect. Just for grins, though:
    * Took up running
    * Took to weight lifting
    * Added a multi-vitamin to my diet
    * Added a fish oil supplement
    * Began experimenting with paleo
    * Began focusing on hobbies to set the mind at peace, this was mostly playing around with the guitar

    Could be any or all, but I can say after a week of vacation I wind up in an odd funk (less *intense* exercise and more varied diet being the big difference), so the night before heading back to work is usually sleepless.

    As mentioned, I have no diagnosis, partly from fear of diagnosis and aversion to the drugs for a personal decision… Whatever it’s worth, though, a night of sleeplessness evens me out.

    1. Sleep regulation is a well recognized self-care measure for those of us with bipolar disorder. Increase sleep in a prodomo manic phase and decrease sleep in a prodomo depression phase. Sleep and mood regulation exist in a strong feedback loop with bipolar (and life in general, really). There’s no reason it shouldn’t work with unipolar depression.

      1. I have definitely noticed a relationship between the occasional all-night creative frenzy (I’m a freelance artist-illustrator & deadlines can be crazy) & elevated mood.

        However, for me, it’s not the sleepless night so much as the motivation of art-making that seems to be the trigger. Poor sleep without the excitement of creativity has the opposite effect on my mood.

  6. It always amazes me that people are so reluctant to give up sweets. After all, it’s not like they’re any kind of necessary food group. Human beings can go their entire lives without eating sweets and suffer no ill effects.

    Sweet foods of any kind, other than fresh whole fruit, can actually perpetuate cravings for more sweets. Eliminating all man-made junk sweets from the diet will usually eliminate the cravings within just a few days–and make no mistake, many of the Paleo substitutes ARE junk, particularly the store-bought ones. A quick look at the ingredients should convince most people to stick with real food created by Mother Nature.

    Cravings are an individual thing. In my own experience, fresh fruit in modest amounts doesn’t seem to trigger the cravings. Some people can get away with a small amount of honey in their tea or coffee as well; others can’t.

    1. I have to say, I have “eliminated all man-made junk sweets” for weeks, even months at a time, and it does lessen cravings. But when stress builds up or I have a difficult week, the cravings come right back.

    2. I wish it was that easy for me, Shary. I have had significant stints of avoiding all sweets (paleo subs included) since going Primal in February, but I have not eliminated my sweet tooth entirely. For me, I think it’s mental. I can go two months without anything except fruit, a little dark chocolate (plus 70%, low added sugar) but once I have one treat, cake for my birthday, ice cream as a treat, it goes down hill and I spiral into having something sweet every day after dinner or sometimes before and after dinner.

      I just can’t seem to eliminate ice cream in particular, desserts broadly, for good. No matter how much I know they’re not good for me.

      1. Curtis, 70% dark chocolate is still nearly 30% sugar. I avoid all sweeteners including honey and dark chocolate. If I have even one pice of 85% dark chocolate, I can pinpoint the moment the sugar hits my brain. It is not a caffeine effect as I drink coffee twice a day. It is the sugar.

      2. Debbie is right. If you aren’t eliminating all sugar you won’t eliminate the cravings for sugar. It took me less than a week to rid myself of the constant desire for sweets, but it took well over a year before I could pass up a favorite bakery without wanting to go inside and buy something. IMO, any linking of sugar to cocaine use is absurd, but it is kind of like quitting smoking. You can break the addiction, but It can take years before a whiff of someone else’s cigarette just stinks instead of smelling good.

        Often a few weeks or a few months isn’t enough to eliminate the mental/emotional aspect of being addicted to sweets. For some people a single bite of a donut or piece of birthday cake will bring it all back again, even after years of going sugar- and sweets-free. Sometimes the desire never leaves permanently. It then becomes a case of mind over matter.

        After being free of sweets for a couple of years, I can now allow myself a bite or two–literally no more than that–on special occasions. I won’t say it doesn’t cross my mind to “spiral downhill” on those occasions, but the desire is only momentary.

      3. Take heart that time will help, Curtis, assuming you continue eating paleo. I used to be the most severe sugar/ carb addict I knew. 4 years ago to this month I found myself at a friends house eating my 13th cookie (yes, 13, and sadly that wasn’t unusual) because I just couldn’t stop myself. I had just read a book on how bad sugar is for the body, and after that experience( and the pain of having been a binger for the past decade), I vowed to totally and completely give up processed sugar– no exceptions. I was a sugar addict, and talk of moderation or special occasions has no place in the vocab of an addict. Recovering alcoholics serious about being sober don’t have a drink on their birthday or anniversary, it would be foolish. For special occasions I would make a treat with honey or maple syrup in it, which I found did not trigger me the same way sugar did. I confess i did have sugar 6 different times that year, and I would ride out the cravings using honey for a few days then quit the honey. Over time it got easier. The time came when eating one serving of sugar made me feel sick instead of triggering me. And in the past year I have eaten sugar just twice and had very minor cravings I rode out. Organic liquid stevia is a lifesaver for me. I mix it in coconut oil or butter with vanilla and salt to make a sugar free chocolate that I coat blueberries with. Talk about a guilt free treat. Consider if you have enough reasons and motivation to take refined sugar completely out of your life– no exceptions. There are so many ways to work around it with stevia or natural sweeteners occasionally. I feel so free and so happy, and don’t feel like i miss a thing anymore except headaches, stomach aches, weight gain and self-loathing. 🙂

  7. Controlled sleep deprivation, also know as Sleep Restriction Therapy or SRT, has been found to be useful in treating insomnia. The idea is to start out forcing yourself to stay up very late, yet wake up at a set time. Once you are able to sleep through the night continuously, bedtime is gradually made earlier. It’s a tough and fatiguing slog for a few weeks, but this “hormetic” stress eventually restores normal sleep. I think it is particularly attractive in that no medication is needed. Studies show that SRT works well for many–but not all–insomnia sufferers. Here is a good overview:

  8. Mark sometimes (often) forgets that not everybody lives in southern California, where going to the park for dinner is probably an option year round.

    The people in northern climes would end up eating in the dark, getting rained on. Probably not what Mark had in mind.

    1. Then again us wimps in So Cal couldn’t get out in cold weather and play hockey. We adapt to our climate and shouldn’t use excuses not to get out.

  9. In my humble opinion, you would risk damaging trigger of the fight or flight response with persistent sleep deprivation. I suggest looking for underlying problems rather than a natural stimulus.

    Your gut filters the junk from the soup of nutrients and energy and everything works well on the right balance of nutrients and energy. Like hydroponics. Your immune system is energy and nutrient hungry.

    Blood sugar drop, want sugar, no sugar = problem. Wanna tear that jelly babies face off like you haven’t eaten for a week. Unless you Cross fit (grrrr angry) and need the carbs, it seems that Mark is saying you will only fat burn if you slow down a bit and have bursts of glucose need from glycogen available. I don’t have enough cortisol, then to much then da de da. There’s money to be made in figuring out this madness!

    1. “damaging yourself triggering the” -typo

      too not to -typo

      BTW if you want some hormesis to wake you up, have a few children!

  10. I know it can be a good workout but I’m just not in favor of tossing around kids of any age. Having been one of those kids myself, I can tell you its not as much fun for them as it may seem like, and if you were to make one little mistake it could end in painful disaster. I’d try something else for lifting and especially “tossing”. When I see dads in the park doing this I just hold my breath and pray. Not being paranoid, just sayin.

      1. I find a ceiling fan on low adds a timing element to the exercise though.

  11. Very interesting idea about the sleep deprivation! It seems like a routine (and I use that word loosely) of occasional periods of deprivation, be it food/carbs, sleep, etc would help make the body more resilient.

    I noticed one time when I was performing an extended fast (ate a small breakfast and didn’t eat anything else for the rest of the day), I had a horrible night’s sleep. However, the next morning I woke up feeling completely energized, even more so than when I have a normal night’s sleep. Could it possibly be a synergistic effect between the autophagy that takes place during fasting and the supposed anti-inflammatory response caused by sleep deprivation?

    Anyone want to weigh in? Mark, your thoughts?

    1. That could also be an effect of ketosis. Come to think of it, my crazy deadlines are often accompanied by long hours without eating. Hmmmm!

  12. Sleep Deprivation for Relief of Depression:

    I have been using carefully planned sleep deprivation (specifically: “triple chronotherapy”) as an important tool to help manage my mild depression for the past 5 years, with great success. I know of many others who also use this regularly.

    The relief is instantaneous and profound. There are important details required to make it work properly and sustain the benefit as long as possible. Repeating the treatment is easy, so as soon as I feel myself slipping again, I just do it again.

    I also agree with Kit’s comment, ” I suggest looking for underlying problems rather than a natural stimulus.” For many years, I have been uncovering and resolving a wide array of underlying issues. All of them helped, some more than others (a few examples: strict paleo & hypoallergenic diet, hypothyroid treatment, meditation, light therapy, supplementation to correct nutrient imbalances, regular exercise, and so on). Each bringing my level of functioning one notch higher. They are the foundation that provide long-term sustainable improvements.

    However, nothing I’ve done to improve my health has resolved my low-level depressive symptoms (including mild ‘brain fog’) as powerfully as triple chronotherapy. I have attempted to do this on my own, but clinicians and researchers warn that it should initially be administered by trained staff in a hospital setting such as they do in a clinic in Chicago. There are some risks, such as a relatively small but serious risk of bipolar patients switching into mania. Here is an excerpt that describes the three elements of triple chronotherapy:

    “(1) Wake Therapy. Patients stay awake through the night and into the next morning. Once their normal day begins, the circadian clock issues its usual wake signal. This keeps them up through the day, in spite of accumulating pressure to sleep.

    (2) Recovery Sleep with Phase Advance. Toward the end of the day, but several hours before their usual sleep time, they are encouraged to sleep for eight hours. While this recovery sleep meets their sleep needs, physiologically they are still in the middle of the wake phase of their particular circadian cycle.

    (3) Light Therapy. Each day of the treatment, an hour earlier than their ordinary wake-up time, they spend a half hour at a bright light box.

    Working together, these elements lift the patient’s depression and extend the relief beyond that first, astonishing day. For many people, one sequence of triple chronotherapy produces such improvement that after a few more days of observation, they can go home. ”
    Terman Ph.D., Michael; Ph.D., Ian McMahan (2012-10-25). Chronotherapy: Resetting Your Inner Clock to Boost Mood, Alertness, and Quality Sleep (p. 138). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

    My top recommendations for further reading (in addition to the great links Mark already provided):

    -“Chronotherapy: Resetting Your Inner Clock to Boost Mood, Alertness, and Quality Sleep” by Terman Ph.D., Michael; Ph.D., Ian McMahan (2012-10-25)

    -A more in-depth physicians manual is here: Chronotherapeutics for Affective Disorders, A Clinician’s Manual for Light and Wake Therapy:

    Here is a free excerpt from that Clinician’s Manual, which describes the full protocol of Wake Therapy + Light Therapy + Sleep Phase Advance:…Chrono_004.pdf

  13. Is broken sleep considered sleep deprivation? At least one of my two children will wake me up every night!
    Check out the Body Ecology website for more information on the importance of a healthy ‘gut’.
    Another great post, thank you Mark.

    1. Not necessarily so. There are two schools of thought on this (that I’m aware of):

      1) total hours slept – 7+ hours of sleep per 24 hour period
      2) number of completed REM cycles – x number of REM cycles per 24 hour period

      This can be discussed at length, but it seems like the deciding factor is how much TOTAL quality sleep you get and not as much how often it’s interrupted. Granted, interrupted sleep will affect the quantity/quality of sleep you attain, but this can be offset by going to sleep earlier or sleeping in later.

      Would be interested in other people’s input as well.

      I have 3 kids so I understand your situation. I eventually adapted to operating on less sleep.

  14. I think the issue with sweets could also be looked at in the context of total carbohydrates. I have been unintentionally too low carb for too long while at a healthy weight and fitness level. I have benefited greatly from upping my carbohydrates, including the paleo sweets listed in Joe’s question (plus plenty of safe starches). I sleep better, have more energy, etc. Chris Kresser had some really good recent posts about going too low carb. Given some of our paleo habits, it can be an effort to hit even 100g of carbs per day.

  15. Grok would have been awakened every month by the moon. The moon is nearly as bright as the sun once you get away from the air and light pollution of the city, or away from moist humid air and into some dry mountain or desert air.

  16. From everything we’ve learned in med school, acute sleep deprivation not acting proinflammatory seems counterintuitive. But, having read that Pubmed article gotta thank you once again for widening my horizon. Thanks man.

  17. Mark thanks posting the link to the Fitness Explorer, it is a gold mine!

  18. Lol – I see a few chronic crossfitters at who do intense, relentless cardio every day, and you can see them crashing – they don’t look healthy, and constantly injured.

    I also think there is “quality” crossfitters and “quantity” crossfitters – I see some of them doing chin-ups and trying to knock out a fast 20 chin-ups, and then repeat, yet the whole time they haven’t completed what I would call a one single chinup done “properly”. They can crank out sets of half chin ups, but can’t actually do one single chin up.

  19. All good questions this week.

    Curious what your take is on the gut issue when someone has had to take antibiotics?

    Would you say to just get a decent probiotic supplement after the antibiotic regime to restore their immune and gut health? Other recommendations?

  20. For dealing with the sweet tooth. Long story but here is the short of it:

    – grew up in Geneva Switzerland and milk chocolate got into my DNA

    – never thought I would be rid of the sweet tooth

    Cured! No sweets for a few weeks and baked Quest bars each day for dessert. Totally cured and now even dark chocolate tastes sickeningly sweet. I have the nostalgia and buy choc bars now and then but it is just not good anymore.

    Note your heart rate after you eat sugar laden foods. Mine goes way up for at least 20 minutes. Not with clean foods though even the Quest bars.

  21. My go to for clients, and myself when a sweet tooth hits is turning to dark chocolate.
    Ideally at least 85% cacao solids but 90 or more is even better.
    Dark chocolate has been shown to have a ton of benefits such as lowering and managing blood sugar.
    Dark chocolate is mainly fat which makes it rank around a 23 on the gylcemic index and provides medium chain tricglycerides which can also help lower cholesterol and combat against heart disease.
    A square or two a day helps with the sweet tooth as well as providing some great health benefits

    1. I agree with the 85% chocolate as the cure for a sweet tooth. I feel the combination of grain flour, refined super and cocoa may be the most addicting food combination out there. If you need more sweet than plain 85% chocolate, stuff a square inside a medjool date. It tastes like a primal tootsie role

  22. With a good blender, some friends and I make our own concoctions with raw cacao, dates, nuts, butter and/or coconut oil. I can keep the sweetness really low by using the minimum of dates, whereas some bought nut and date bars (those with 50% or more date) seem to make me want more. I got over my seemingly incurable sweet tooth with the Whole 30 but this treat from time to time helps the children refuse the cakes and sweets they are offered so frequently.

  23. Very funny, Jack, ha ha. I said I wasn’t being paranoid and I’m pretty sure most people are very careful when “tossing” their “kettellbell babies”. I’m just not a “fan”, ha ha.

  24. I’m late to the game here, but I had chronic inflammatory issues my entire life, and developed an avoidance of sleep. On an acute level, it did lead to immense symptom relief, but as the doctors and I had no clue what was actually going on at the time and never addressed root causes, it developed into chronic insomnia, the epigenetic reprogramming of my body for sleeplessness. So now I am undoing that with the help of therapy, knowledge (hormesis! polyvagal theory!), retraining habits and EMDR. Lots of study and practice.